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A Decade After Adoption Afghan Constitution Is Yet To Be Implemented

Afghanistan -- Independent commission for overseeing the implementation of constitution, 03 Dec 2013
Afghanistan -- Independent commission for overseeing the implementation of constitution, 03 Dec 2013
Ten years after it was adopted by an assembly of tribal leaders, Afghanistan's current constitution remains one of the most progressive in the Muslim world but has yet to be fully implemented.

Afghan officials and experts participating in a recent Radio Free Afghanistan call-in show, "On the Waves of Freedom," agreed that weaknesses in the current government and foreign meddling have prevented full implementation of the country's supreme law.

Gul Rahman Qazi, head of the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of Constitution, said that a lack of peace and escalating violence prevented Kabul from implementing the constitution, which was adopted in 2004 after lengthy deliberations in the Loya Jirga or grand council.

"The lack of political will and transparency among government officials and the failure to explain laws to ordinary Afghans contributed to confusion over the supreme law," he said. "Constant meddling by foreigners in Afghan affairs also complicated the full implementation of the Afghan constitution and other laws."

Lawmaker Zalmai Zabuli, head of the Afghan Senate's Complaints Commission, agreed. He said that interpretations of constitutional provisions varied within the government and resulted in the presidency, the judiciary and the parliament abusing their authority to enhance their powers.

He said that the Afghan constitution bars anyone involved in corruption from holding high office. "Many times we confronted the president with documentary proof implicating ministers in corruption, but no action was taken," Zabuli said.

The current Afghan constitution envisages a presidential form of government with an elected bicameral parliament. The constitution declares Afghanistan an Islamic republic but guarantees fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Wadir Safi, a law professor at Kabul University, said that emphasis on 'Islamizing' Afghanistan in the current constitution was an attempt to bridge underlying tensions between pro-Western progressives, their Western backers and Islamists in the country.

He said that declaring Afghanistan an Islamic republic and other Islamic provisions in the constitution aimed at appeasing the former anti-Soviet guerilla leaders who became among the main powerbrokers in Kabul after the demise of the Taliban regime in late 2001.

"Look who is most vocal in criticizing the West and the Americans today?" he asked. "The constitution has failed to achieve its main goal of bridging differences among Afghans and has broadly been unsuccessful in creating a democratic Afghanistan."

"On The Waves of Freedom" is a weekly, two-hour long radio call-in show known for sharp analysis and political commentary. Every Thursday millions of Afghans in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Tajikistan tune in to the show, which is a flagship program of Radio Free Afghanistan, or Radio Azadi as it is known locally.